The vast majority of Myanmar's population are Buddhist, more than 88%
More than 300,000 Rohingya have fled violence in Myanmar since August 25
The Dalai Lama has called on Myanmar to follow the example of the Buddha and come to the aid of the country’s persecuted Rohingya minority, more than 300,000 of whom have fled their home province in two weeks.
Speaking to journalists in North India, the Tibetan spiritual leader expressed his grief over the ongoing violence inside Buddhist-majority Myanmar on Friday, saying the Buddha would have “definitely helped” the Rohingya.
“They should remember, Buddha, in such circumstances, Buddha (would have) definitely helped those poor Muslims. So, still I feel that (it’s) so very sad … so sad,” he told reporters.
Almost 90% of Myanmar’s population are Buddhists, according to government figures, while the Rohingya have long been marginalized for their Muslim faith.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh since the latest outbreak of violence began on August 25, according to the United Nations.
The Rohingya, considered to be among the world’s most persecuted people, are denied the right to citizenship in Myanmar despite having lived there for generations, making them effectively stateless.
They’ve been the subject of multiple clearance operations by Myanmar’s military, the latest of which intensified in late August following an attack on border posts by Rohingya militants.
The insurgency offered a temporary ceasefire on Saturday to address the “humanitarian crisis” unfolding in the state but the Myanmar government rejected it, saying it doesn’t “negotiate with terrorists.”
Nobel laureates condemn Suu Kyi
The Dalai Lama is the latest international human rights leader to call for an end to the violence.
On Friday, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu wrote a letter to his fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to beg her to end the persecution.
“I am … breaking my vow of silence on public affairs out of profound sadness about the plight of the Muslim minority in your country, the Rohingya,” he wrote in an open letter, posted on his official Twitter feed.
Suu Kyi, who is the state counselor of Myanmar and its de facto leader, has repeatedly been criticized for failing to condemn the brutal violence undertaken by her government.
Tutu described the campaign against the Rohingya as a “slow genocide.”
“The images we are seeing of the suffering of the Rohingya fill us with pain and dread,” he said. “If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep.”
Earlier last week, Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient of the Nobel peace prize, called out Suu Kyi on Twitter, saying the world was “waiting” for her.
“Over the last several years, I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same,” she wrote on September 4.
CNN’s Sugam Pokharel contributed to this report.